The Ranger - Feb. 16

department of iron range resources and rehabilitation

The Ranger 

Feb. 16, 2022

New fuel and convenience retail campus developed in Nashwauk

Edward's Oil

Edwards Oil & Propane dba Lucky Seven General Stores purchased three adjoining commercial property sites in downtown Nashwauk to redevelop them into a retail campus. The existing buildings on the sites are either being demolished or were remodeled for the new retail outlets. A new combination liquor store and car wash is at 95% completion. A new modern convenience store with a brand name quick-serve restaurant is in the planning stage and will be out for construction bid later this year. Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation supported the project with a Commercial Redevelopment grant to the city of Nashwauk that helped pay for renovation of an existing building on the sites.

Hurricane Car Wash Logo

The liquor store, named Ed’s Little Brown Jug, features over 200 selections of wine. There is a large liquor assortment with top shelf varieties and a state-of-the-art beer cave that is the largest of Lucky Seven’s liquor arm. Attached to the liquor store is a new two-bay Hurricane Plus Car Wash. One bay is DIY with high-pressure wand and drying systems that can accommodate vehicles as large as an RV. The other bay is an automated Hurricane Plus Car Wash that features a state-of-the-art machine that can do either a touchless or soft touch wash with four wash and price options.

The new convenience store will have a well-stocked inventory of goods, a selection of outdoor sporting supplies and a quick-serve restaurant, possibly with a drive-thru. An environmentally friendly storage tank system will be installed to serve a canopied fuel island.

Lucky Seven Logo

“The new campus of buildings and amenities will complement Nashwauk’s downtown area,” said Bob Skalko, Edwards Oil general manager. “Lucky Seven Stores continue to innovate their offerings based on community needs. This development in Nashwauk is our newest location, and we are very proud to serve the people there.”

Edwards Oil and its affiliated companies are headquartered in Virginia, Minnesota and employ nearly 200 people at 21 locations throughout northeastern Minnesota.

Lucky Seven Outdoor Logo

“Local contractors, subcontractors and professional services were utilized for the design and construction work,” said Skalko. “We always try to give back as much as possible to those who have helped us grow our brand in northeastern Minnesota. Hiring, buying and keeping business local is part of that commitment.”

For Commercial Redevelopment grant information email Chris Ismil or call him at 218-735-3010.

Broadband expanded in Morse Township and Ely area

Treehouse Broadband

Approximately 350 underserved homes and several resorts in Morse Township recently received access to highspeed broadband internet through next generation fixed wireless and millimeter wave technology. The homes and resorts are located in a coverage area surrounding Ely that includes the shoreline areas of Burntside Lake, Little Long Lake and Wolf Lake. Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation supported the project with a $150,000 Community Infrastructure grant to Morse Township. Morse Township invested $100,000, and total project investment was $450,000.

The area geology is very rocky with challenging bedrock that drives up the cost of burying fiber. Instead fixed wireless deployments were used which reduces costs by approximately 90% and drastically reduces project timelines.

Treehouse Broadband

The work was completed by Treehouse Broadband, an Ely-based internet service provider founded by local resident Isaac Olson. Treehouse uses fixed wireless technology to beam internet service from towers to homes and businesses, using directional antennas and receiver dishes. The company also installs whole-home WiFi, ensuring high-speed coverage even in the corners of homes and businesses.

“A traditional fiber project to cover these 350 homes would likely cost over $4 million and take years to deploy. We completed the project for a tenth of that price,” said Olson. “Fiber requires a huge labor and equipment investment. Fixed wireless can provide similar levels of service in a much shorter period of time.”

Morse Township

When fully completed, customers will have access to internet speeds of 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload. Their previous access was real speeds below 10 Mbps.

“The new coverage and broadband service will allow a wave of remote workers to spend more time at vacation cabins and resorts, which in turn stimulates the local economy,” said Nick Wognum, Morse Township clerk. “The project served resorts and homes that were in desperate need of speed and connectivity improvements.”

For Broadband grant information email Whitney Ridlon or call her at 218-735-3004.

Iron Range trails continue outdoor excellence with new grooming equipment

Utility Vehicle

Range Trail Committee (RTC) purchased a Polaris Ranger NorthStar side-by-side utility vehicle to use for trail maintenance and for the conversion of snowmobile trails in the winter to all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trails in the summer. Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation supported the project with a $15,000 Culture & Tourism grant.

Minnesota’s vast trail network has 22,000 miles of interconnected trails with over 21,000 of those miles maintained by local snowmobile club volunteers. RTC is one of those clubs, and it is responsible for the Laurentian and Kinney Trails, which have often been called by riders as some of the state’s best and safest trails due to smooth terrain and unique widths of 20 feet. The Laurentian Trail winds around the central Iron Range cities of Buhl, Kinney, Virginia and Biwabik near Giants Ridge Recreation Area.

Utility Vehicle

Beginning this summer, portions of the Laurentian Trail will be used for ATV trails and be key pieces of northeastern Minnesota’s growing ATV trail system. In addition to grooming snowmobile and ATV trails, the new utility vehicle will be used year-round as a rescue vehicle.

“Snowmobile and ATV trails have an important economic impact in northeastern Minnesota,” said Greg Moore, RTC volunteer groomer. “With the new vehicle, our volunteers can continue their work each winter, and now each summer, to benefit both local and visiting trail riders.”

RTC also received a grant from Polaris to help pay for the vehicle. Culture & Tourism grant applications will again be accepted March 1-30. For Culture & Tourism grant information email Danae Beaudette or call her at 218-735-3022.

Regional Trails grants for northeastern Minnesota

Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation invests approximately $3.5 million annually into Regional Trails grants across its 13,000 square-mile service area. The grants assist with the design, engineering and construction of various types of trails such as snowmobile, bicycle, ski, hiking and ATV

Silver Lake Walking Trail

The city of Virginia was awarded a Regional Trails grant to complete phase I renovation of the Silver Lake Walking Trail which included the reconstruction of a portion of the existing trail and created a connection to a city avenue. The trail connects schools, parks, community recreation facilities and activity centers throughout Virginia’s downtown area and business district. “Silver Lake Trail provides our residents and visitors a wonderful outdoor activity within a city setting and provides a non-motorized alternative to access a wide variety of locations throughout Virginia. The trail promotes active, healthy living and complements the city’s other outdoor amenities such as our community parks, playgrounds, picnic areas, ballfields, tennis courts and skating rinks. – City Administrator Britt See-Benes

Split Rock

Lake County was awarded a Regional Trails grant to help construct 21 miles of purpose-built, single track mountain bike trail along the North Shore, between Split Rock Lighthouse State Park and Beaver Bay. The project was the first of multiple phases that when fully completed will create 50 miles of trail. The trail is part of the Lake County Trail System amidst the wilderness and within 1.5 miles of Lake Superior providing numerous views of the world’s largest freshwater lake. “Recreational spending is a major contributor to the North Shore economy. Parks and trails are key to attracting new families and workers to the region, retaining retirees and drawing short and extended tourist visits.” – Lake County Land Commissioner Nate Eide

Photo courtesy of Pete Stone.

Regional Trails Icon

Grant amounts vary and cannot exceed 10% of the total project cost for design, engineering and construction management. A 1:1 match is required. Cities, townships, counties, tribal nations and nonprofits located within the agency’s service area are eligible to apply. The applicant or collaboration partners must be the current or intended owner with control of the property. Multi-organization collaboration is encouraged.

Does your community have a trails project? Learn more about Regional Trails grants. For information email Jim Plummer or call him at 218-274-7006.

Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation funds Regional Trails grants through taxes paid by Minnesota’s mining industry.

The Ranger is a publication of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation. Our mission is to invest resources to foster vibrant growth and economic prosperity in northeastern Minnesota.